Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is a huge topic in nearly every business. While incorporating new AI-driven tools is still in the very early stages, there’s a lot still unknown.
AI is simply another iteration of technological change that’s been happening for decades. Businesses that learn to embrace AI — in the right ways — will leverage the benefits regardless of the external economic environment.
Related: How to Leverage AI to Supercharge Your Business
Tech booms and busts
During the dot-com boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s, numerous internet service providers (ISPs) and search engines emerged, but not all survived the eventual market correction. Engines like Infoseek, Lycos, WebCrawler and Ask Jeeves didn’t make the cut. Google did, which today accounts for around 90% of the global search engine market share.
The dot-com bust led to the downfall of many of these companies. Poor business models, the inability to monetize effectively, failure to be adaptable and intense competition were common reasons for their decline or disappearance.
The same thing happened with social media. Sites like Friendster and MySpace, which were popular initially, lost momentum after the boom faded.
Historically, first you see a boom, then consolidation. Today, AI is still in that early boom stage. It would thus be irresponsible for most businesses to tie their systems to a single AI platform quite yet.
While some believe AI represents the biggest risk to workers, that risk remains undefined and uncertain. AI can be a great copilot and resource for businesses. If it’s used wisely, it’s not necessarily going to displace millions of workers. Over the years, every major technological innovation (such as the steam engine, the internet and social media) expanded demand for work. Workers who understand how businesses can best optimize technologies, improve workflows and grow profitability will always be in demand.
Related: Why Every Company Should Be Thinking About Artificial Intelligence
5 tips to integrate AI effectively
While AI’s future remains uncertain, we know that it’s here to stay. Organizations need to start considering how to incorporate AI effectively and what their processes might look like in an AI-driven future. Here are a few suggestions for small businesses looking to successfully integrate AI:
1. Create clear objectives
First, understand exactly why you’re using AI and what you’re trying to achieve. What problem is it solving? For example, you may want to enhance customer service with a 24/7 customer chatbot or generate content ideas for faster outlining. Think about what clear value AI creates for you. Don’t just integrate it because it’s the latest, coolest technology.
2. Align your focus with hiring
Depending on where you’re using AI and what your objectives are, you may want to hire a dedicated AI resource. AI is a broad and rapidly evolving field. Invest in someone who actively follows the trends and can work with department leaders to leverage them effectively. You need clear use cases and data points to prove it’s worth the investment. An AI expert can provide that information, updating strategy as the technology changes.
3. Start small
You don’t have to use AI to completely revamp your business. Not yet. Begin with a small project or pilot program. Regularly assess the impact of AI on one workflow. Collect feedback, monitor performance metrics, and adjust your approach as necessary. These smaller projects will ensure you’re not throwing everything into a technology that is still in its early boom phase.
4. Connect your AI tools with business needs
There are many AI tools and platforms tailored for small businesses — more enter the market every day. Conduct ample research, and select programs that align with your business needs and budget. Working with an AI professional can ensure you’re making the right early moves.
5. Prioritize privacy
Stay mindful of AI’s ethical concerns, such as data privacy, bias in AI algorithms and transparency in AI-driven decisions. Privacy is currently a major issue. Many businesses are putting client and business information into these learning models, and it’s not completely clear what the privacy protocols are and what will happen next. Train your team to use AI tools to avoid creating additional risk.
Related: 3 Ways You Can Actually Use AI in Your Business (and Why You Should Still Be Careful With It)
Embrace AI with open eyes
Every new technology becomes powerful while it’s booming. We still don’t know the implications of new AI platforms. Businesses need to set clear goals, follow trends and updates, evaluate it on small projects and measure results regularly. Invest where you see progress, and avoid full-scale implementation until AI is fully understood. Carefully consider the information you’re feeding into the learning models.
The best use case for AI is using it in tandem with human expertise, which just can’t be replaced. Businesses that are committed to staying informed about AI’s development and working strategically will win the game.
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